Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Questions. I Have Questions.

1. If there were a task in your life that made the majority of your days difficult for a short period of time (say, an hour or so), that made you stressed out with your children and grumpy and frustrated, but that your husband sort of expected you to do (and really appreciated and enjoyed) and, truth be told, you sort of expected it of yourself, would you keep doing it? Would you keep spending the time to do something that part of your family actively loved and expected and enjoyed, but that another part of your family made difficult and did not appreciate at all?

I am talking about making dinner, to be clear. My husband loves it, eats it, raves about it, looks forward to coming home to it after a long day. My kids don't eat it, complain about it, make me feel guilty for ignoring them from 4:30 - 5:30 while I try to get it on the table. They'd be thrilled with PB&J/macaroni and cheese/grilled cheese/kid food; my husband would not. I feel like there's a whole "If you love your family, you'll make a savory yet nutritious meal for them every night" expectation when you're a mom, too, and, truth is, I really DO love to cook. So I want to do this, and - in theory - I want our girls to grow up eating healthy food and appreciating new things and learning how to cook and bake. But the way it works - in practice - is that the girls fight or completely destroy an entire floor of the house during the time I'm cooking; I have to stop chopping onions/stirring the risotto/making the meatballs 85 times to go sort it out; and then, when we finally sit down to dinner, 9 times out of 10 the girls essentially don't eat what I've cooked. And it's so DISCOURAGING. I refuse to make separate meals, so I end up saying things like, "This is what's for dinner. Eat what you like and try a bit of everything. Tomorrow we'll have something else." But Jemma will barely tolerate the smell of certain foods, refuses to even have them on her plate, and I don't want to turn this into a battle. Annie is more receptive, but essentially doesn't care and would be just as happy eating something that took 2 seconds to whip up. It all just feel so POINTLESS and I am tempted to open a can of cream of mushroom soup and pour it over some ground beef and call it a casserole and be done with it.

2. We've started expecting the girls, especially Annie, to perform certain household chores on a daily or weekly basis. For example, she now puts away her clean laundry, makes her bed every morning, and is expected to help set and clear the table at dinnertime. Jason and I have been talking about giving her an allowance for this, mostly because we want to start teaching her how to manage money. I got one when I was little, and I was expected to set aside a percentage to give away, a percentage to put in a savings account, and then I could spend the rest on whatever I liked.

I like this idea, but I also like the idea of kids being asked to do chores simply because they are part of the family. I want them to know what it is to contribute for the sake of helping out and not just focus on being paid for the things they do. So, what do you think? Allowance tied to chores to teach money management, or chores for the sake of contributing to the family? I like BOTH ideas.


  1. I'm with you on dinner. Only when I try new things that I love, I am the only one who loves them--not the hubby, not the kids. Good times.

    What we should do is just get together with our friends for dinner every night. So we can make recipes from Molly Wizenberg and know lots of people will be enjoying it :)

    On chores. I know someone who does both. There are some chores that are just expected. Then there are chores that are extras that can earn allowance. But they can only earn allowance if they do the mandatory chores as well (obviously, or this wouldn't work at all). Maybe keep what she is already doing mandatory, but add a few things that she could do to earn something extra.

  2. I hate, hate, hate trying to get dinner on the table while keeping my five- and two-year-old wolves at bay, too. However, I keep doing it, night after night. I think this is one of those things that will pay off in the long run. Even if they aren't taking in much nutrition, your girls are absorbing important stuff -- the things you mentioned about learning about healthy food, and cooking, etc, etc.

    The only thing that makes it tolerable for me is mixing it up with things like making dinner in the morning with the slow cooker, or super easy, almost-no work dinners. It's a slog, I agree, but I think one that's worth it.

  3. I really like Gina's idea about the two types of chores. My sister and I didn't get an allowance when we were kids; if we wanted money for something (before we were old enough to babysit/work), we asked Mom and Dad and they figured it out from there. My parents didn't believe we should be paid for helping around the house and doing our part. I'm honestly not sure which way to go.

    As for dinner, sigh. Could you maybe split up the nights, and make a creative/"grownup" meal, say, three nights a week and a more casual/easier one on the other two/three? Would the girls eat something like homemade pizzas, where theirs has tomato sauce and cheese and yours and Jason's are more interesting?

  4. I loathe these kinds of decisions...where both ideas feel right but neither feels great alone. I wouldn't have thought of the two kinds of chores thing, but that sounds like something I'll consider (thanks, Gina)! And, dinner...I only have 1 kid, so can't imagine how exponentially more difficult the dinner hour will be. Then there's the clean up aspect that nobody wants to do, and the more elaborate the meal, the more clean up. I've been saving the more complex meals for the weekends and turning to one pot meals often during the week.

  5. You know what I think is in my future, much to my chagrin? A CROCK POT.

    Thanks for the advice, everyone. Keep it coming!